by Michael van den Ham
The Belgian National championships took place this Sunday in Erpe-Mere. Erpe-Mere hosts Steenbergcross every September, on a nearly identical course. Heavy rainfall yesterday turned the fast track we watched in September to heavy one with long running sections, a number of flyovers, and thick, slippery mud.
On a course that had her colleagues running descents, crashing in the deep, slippery mud, and pitting every half lap, Sanne Cant confidently and smoothly rode to her sixth Belgian title on a sopping wet and slippery course in Erpe-Mere. Just as many predicted, such as Christine Vardaros in her pre-race predictions, Sanne Cant (Enertherm — BKCP) and the eventually runner-up, Ellen Van Loy (Telenet — Fidea) separated themselves from the rest of the riders early in the first lap and went on to separate themselves from the rest of the field by a number of minutes. Further back, Githa Michiels (Versluys PRO) earned with final step of the podium.
For Cant, the win wasn’t so much as a surprise as it was a relief. After winning the previous five national titles, the 24 year old Belgian would be disappointed with anything but victory. “I’m glad I won my sixth tri-color. Such National Championships always brings a bit stress along with them because I can only lose. As a result, I’m very glad that I won here.”
Second place, Ellen Van Loy was quick to praise Cant’s win. “I would be disappointed with third place” she explained, “with a second place, I’ll live . Sanne’s been strong all season and is a deserved winner. She made the difference especially on the technical parts.”
Cant, the current World-Cup leader, and Van Loy, lead the race from the first corner. The first lap went to Van Loy as she used a fast start to gain a handful of seconds on Cant by the time they returned to the Start/Finish one round later. For a moment, Cant’s Belgian dominance looked to be in doubt as Van Loy pushed a big gear, rode sections Cant was running, and seemed much faster in the deep mud.
The early efforts seemed to cost Van Loy, however, and her advantage was short lived. Mid-way through the second lap, Cant slowly but surely began to claw back time on the lead. First the gap was 5 seconds, then 3, until finally Cant rode past Van Loy half way through the race and kept on going. As Van Loy visibly began to tire, Cant grew her lead through superior technical riding. At the start of the bell lap, she has 5 seconds. By half-way into the lap, she had extended that lead to 15 seconds and, by the time she raised her arms victory, had a comfortable 20 second advantage and plenty of time savour the victory, and point sky-ward as she crossed the line.
The final spot of the podium was earned by a surprising Githa Michiels. Michiels spent much of the race in 4th place, before passing a mechanical stricken Loes Sels on the final lap to take the last step on the podium. Sels crossed the line for 4th a minute later. Further down the field, Cindy Bauwens (Morgan Blue) took home fifth place, while Jolien Verschueren (Telenet — Fidea) rode in for sixth.
2015 Belgian National Cyclo-cross Championships, Women's Elite Race
|2||Ellen VAN LOY||35||43:36:00|
|11||Femke VAN DEN DRIESSCHE||19||50:40:00|
|12||Kim VAN DE STEENE||29||52:33:00|
|15||Meg DE BRUYNE||19||55:34:00|
|16||Nele VAN MALDEGHEM||32||56:27:00|
|22||Mieke DE ROO||43||1:00:34|
|23||Marijke DE PAUW||25||1:01:14|
|26||Chris VAN DORSSELAERE||30|